Loud Music is a $40 Fine

Just my personal blog.

March 30, 2009

Your PC May Not Be So Personal Anymore

I’ve just seen something that’s left me speechless (if it’s true). It’s a news report from Russia Today about a trade agreement that the Obama administration is apparently working on. The bottom line is that it would give the government the authority to search your computer without a search warrant.  Government agents would be allowed to check your computer (or any other personal electronic devices) for unauthorized copyrighted works and arrest you if any were found.

Here’s the full video from Russia Today.

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If this is true, then the ACLU should be all over it. But since they’re in the tank for Obama, I don’t see that happening.

H/T: Gateway Pundit

March 26, 2009

Restroom Access Act

I have Crohn’s disease. If you’ve never heard of it (and chances are, you haven’t; it’s not a glamorous disease like AIDS), it’s an inflammatory bowel disease which has as one of its symptoms diarrhea.

It’s not a fun disease to have. In my case, I’ve had to have two surgeries which removed upwards of two feet of small intestine.

With Crohn’s disease, when you have to go, YOU HAVE TO GO. You don’t get much time to figure out where the nearest restroom is.

I think I have some “authority” to say what I’m going to say here.

There’s a new law in Illinois called “Ally’s Law.” It came about because Ally Bain was in an Old Navy store with her mom when she had to go. The management of the store refused to let her use the employee restroom. The resulting law forces businesses with employee only restrooms to allow customers to use the restroom if certain conditions are met.

The part of me that suffers from Crohn’s disease says “yeah, about time”. The part of me that believes in freedom says “bad law.”

I think the freedom loving part of me wins in this situation. Here’s why: the management of that Old Navy store made a bad decision; there’s no doubt about that. They could easily have allowed Ally, who was obviously in distress, the use of the restroom. Instead, they didn’t, and now we have another law that tries to force common sense onto businesses.

Yeah, I feel for the girl in this situation; I’ve been there (I had to stop at a stranger’s house one time to use the bathroom). What they should have done was let Old Navy know how bad this decision was, not try to get a law passed to fix it. A publicity campaign would have been better than getting another law passed. Imagine how embarrassed the manager of that Old Navy would have been if his name had been in a news story that related the situation.

What needs to happen is that the public needs to be made more aware of this disease. The last thing we need is to go running to the government for a fix. I find it ironic that in the video on the page I linked to above the mother says that her daughter will overcome the disease no matter where she goes. No, now whenever her daughter feels like she’s owed something because she has this awful disease, her daughter will use government as a first resort.

I’m sorry, but part of having Crohn’s disease is having “restroom awareness”. Her mother failed her when she didn’t know where the nearest public restroom was. Sure, Old Navy could have stepped up and helped, but they weren’t obligated to (at that time).

Now a version of that law is making its way across other states, mine included. Despite the fact that it could possibly help me a some point in the future, I’m against it. Government shouldn’t be used this way.

March 23, 2009

Pavarotti’s Got Soul

Well, after a week off from blogging I’m back. Here’s a palatte cleanser for you.

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H/T: The Fat Guy

March 13, 2009

UPDATED: Comcast Sucks

Got a nice little letter in the mail today from Comcast. Seems that someone there screwed up and deleted the line item from our bill that charges us for internet access. So now Comcast is correcting their mistake, and they’re such a nice company they’re not even going to charge me for the “free” internet service I’ve been getting!

So, since there wasn’t any indication in this letter about how much my bill would be going up, I had to call. Talked to a guy who told me my $100 ish cable bill would be going up to around $140, not including taxes. That would put it up around $150 or so (they can’t ever seem to tell you how much the taxes are going to be).

I said that as far as I knew, the plan I had included internet access, and as far as I was concerned, I’d been paying for it all along (this “mistake” happened in October of 2006!). Comcast rep said that they weren’t going to make me pay for the over $1300 in internet service I’d gotten for free. Told him again, no, my package includes it. Don’t know what happened on your end, but that’s not my fault.

So now I’m looking at trying to reduce this bill one way or another. His recommendation was that maybe I could get their phone service. Huh? Here I am complaining about how expensive it already is, and he’s trying to upsell me? Do I sound stupid on the phone or what?

I’m going to explore other options, but I suspect that I’ll have to stay with Comcast for the internet (even though it’s not “free” anymore). That means I’ll have to cut back on something else. We’re not using our land line phone much anymore, so that might be an option.

I’m really disgusted with Comcast right now. Somehow they’ve changed my plan from one that included internet access to one that doesn’t, then they have the gall to tell me I’ve been getting it free for two years, but now they’re going to charge me.

Comcast does indeed, suck.

UPDATE: Well, that was interesting. Comcast called my house today and offered to cut the $42/month internet charge to what a new customer would get, which is $20/month for the next six months. I guess it’s better than going through the hassle of trying to find another broadband provider. I’ll revisit my internet options in six months; maybe by that time AT&T will have their TV service more widely available (you know, the TV service that Comcast lobbied the Tennessee state government to not allow). I’m still not entirely happy; I’d like to be able to pick and choose the channels I want, and pay for just those. If you want one or two channels in one of their higher tiers, you’ve got to pay for all of them. Oh well.

March 11, 2009

Human Cannonball

Here’s Webb Wilder’s Human Cannonball.

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March 10, 2009

Los Straitjackets

Here’s a video from Los Straitjackets.

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March 9, 2009

Daylight Savings Time Is A Joke

We “sprung forward” over the weekend, or at least most of us did. Daylight Savings Time went into effect Sunday morning, and as usual, my sleep cycle is screwed up.

Someone computed that the “opportunity” cost of changing the clocks twice a year (if you figure it takes 15 minutes to change all your clocks) was something like $1.7 billion. That’s the time it takes times an average hourly rate of $17 ish times the number of people in the US.

That’s one hidden cost. Another hidden cost is productivity. If you follow your circadian rhythm after DST goes into effect, you’ll end up going to sleep one hour later. So instead of going to sleep at 11 pm, you go to sleep at midnight. If you get up at 7 pm, you’ve lost an hour of sleep. You’re going to drive to work groggier, be less productive at work, and be more tired at the end of the day. And in this current economic situation, anything that reduces productivity should be done away with.

Ben Franklin is credited with coming up with Daylight Savings Time. But it seems he suggested it more as a joke than anything. He says that he woke up early one day in Paris, and found that the sun was already up (at 6 am). He then calculates how many pounds of candles would be saved if people used daylight instead of candlelight (kind of like the “early to bed, early to rise” saying).

No one took the idea seriously until the World War I. The Germans adopted it early in the war, and the US adopted it late. It was ultimately repealed in the US in 1919 because it was so unpopular.

I daresay it’s pretty unpopular now, especially after Congress added a few more weeks to DST. The kicker there is that they used numbers from the 1970’s that touted how much energy would be saved. The government entity that produced those numbers not only says they’re out of date, but they’re wrong. So Congress passes a law based on faulty or inaccurate information. What else is new?

We need to repeal this stupid law. Or at the very least, split the difference, and “spring ahead” a half hour one time, and be done with it.

H/T: Failed Success

March 4, 2009

World’s Largest Record Collection

Paul Mawhinney began collecting records (for you kids out there, a “record” is a flat disc you put on a “record player” in order to hear music) 60 years ago. He now has over 1,000,000 records and his collection is worth millions. But he’s put the collection up for sale due to declining health and other reasons.

Here’s a short video about the collection:

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I don’t know why someone like Paul McCartney wouldn’t buy this. This collection needs to be kept intact.

February 25, 2009

NASCAR: The Big One

I was a little surprised with this last Daytona 500, or at least the coverage of it. Normally you hear drivers complaining about restrictor plates and how those plates are dangerous because they cause “the big one”. Never mind the fact that most of those “big ones” are caused by driver error (or if you’re Junior, stupidity). Somehow it’s those plates that cause big pile ups.

But if you look back at the history of the Daytona 500, you’ll find that they had “big ones” before restrictor plates. As a matter of fact, in the 1960 500, they had the biggest ever “big one”: 37 cars. Yes, 37 cars were involved in one wreck on lap one of the 1960 Daytona 500. The field was pretty big too: 68 cars.

My point here is that big wrecks aren’t caused by restrictor plates; they’re usually caused by human error or mechanical failure. I’m sure people will say that restrictor plates cause the cars to be bunched up together, and that’s true to a certain extent.  But cars are going to be bunched up together on other tracks. Take Bristol (please). Wrecks involving 25% of the field happen there regularly, but all we hear is the NASCAR propaganda that Bristol is one of the most exciting tracks they race on. Bull.

Anyway, here’s a little video of that big wreck at Daytona in 1960.

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February 16, 2009

NASCAR: Random Racin’ Ruminations

SHOOTOUT: Rookies shouldn’t be allowed in the Shootout. Enough said.

TRUCK SERIES: The truck series new rule about not having more than five men over the wall at a time showed itself to be stupid the other night. Trucks would come in and either get tires or fuel, then circle back around and get fuel or tires. I can see only having 12 pit crew members as a valid cost cutting measure. But it doesn’t make sense to force the trucks to make two pit stops under one caution. NASCAR already extends cautions too long to allow teams to pit; this just makes them even longer. If they want to do something crazy, why not have a rule that makes teams choose between fuel and tires on a pit stop under caution? In other words, if a caution comes out, you can pit, and you can choose to change tires or fill up with fuel. None of this “double dipping” nonsense we saw the other night.

LOGANO: I’m a little tired already of people telling me how great Joey Logano is. It kind of puts me off of him, especially when there are others as (if not more) talented than he is. Gibbs should have let him run a couple years in the Grand National series before giving him a Cup ride.

GRAND NATIONALS: (Since I don’t get paid to mention the series sponsors, I refer to it by its old name, the Grand National Series.) Saturday’s race was pretty decent. It shows that NASCAR should have left that aero package on the Cup cars up until the new car was mandated. They passed, they ran three wide, and, they didn’t have “the big one”.

RETIRING DRIVERS: Memo to Mark Martin and Bill Elliot – if you’re going to retire, then retire. I realize Mark is back to a full-time ride this year with Hendrick, to try to accomplish something he could never do with Roush (that is, to win a championship). But a few years ago, he announced he was retiring. Aging drivers run the risk of falling into the Petty/Waltrip trap: continuing to drive way past the time they should have gotten out of the car. Take a page from Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett – just retire.

PAINT SCHEMES: I have to say, I really like the scheme of the 24 Cup car this season. Don’t know what it is, but it’s really sharp. And who would have ever thought we’d see a #43 without a trace of Petty Blue? Seeing that it really solidified the fact that Richard Petty is now just a figurehead in “Richard Petty Motorsports”.

START TIMES: I realize the broadcasters want me to watch the pre-race shows, but frankly, I’m not interested. I want to see on my DVR’s guide when the actual race coverage starts. Back when I was a bigger fan, I watched all the coverage I could find. But now I actually have a life, and I’ve got other things to. By combining the pre-race coverage with the actual race coverage, I’m prevented from time-shifting the race without paying a little attention to the pre-race show. NASCAR has the start time on their schedule on their web site, but it was still 20 minutes earlier than the actual race start. And one more thing: NASCAR needs to move the start times up. This race should have started about two hours earlier than it did. If it had started earlier, it would have been over by the time the rain came.

ANTHEM: One of my pet peeves is the performance of the National Anthem. Nine times out of ten it’s just awful: the performers try to “make it their own” or show their improvisational skills or whatever. The one before the Daytona 500 was no exception. I don’t know who the guy was, but it sounded like he’d rather have been anywhere else but Daytona. Who auditions these people?

SELLOUTS: They said during the broadcast that it took until Saturday night to sell out all the seats for the 500. And for the first time I can ever remember, Bristol has season tickets available. Perhaps this might give the promoters a clue that their product is overpriced.

COMPETITION CAUTIONS: If NASCAR is going to mandate that teams come in for a competition caution to check tires, then the teams should restart in the same order they were running in before the caution. This is not like a caution for a wreck; this is something the teams have foreknowledge of. Plus, they shouldn’t let them make any chassis adjustments. Just change four tires, fill up with gas, and go back out in the order you came in.

SPONSOR RESTRAINT: It’s obvious that Verizon and AT&T have a TON of money to spend in sponsorships. That’s why it’s mind boggling that NASCAR would give the series sponsor exclusivity. So we have two sponsors that could help underfunded teams being shut out. As a result, they’re paying the TV networks instead of teams. I think one of the interesting side effects of the exclusivity deal is that AT&T and Verizon have more mentions during the broadcast than Sprint.

ROUGH DRIVING: Apparently there’s a different standard for rough driving in the Grand National Series than there is in the Cup Series. Jason Leffler did a move similar to Dale Earnhardt, Jr., but got penalized five laps for it. Imagine if it’d been Kyle Busch who’d made that stupid, boneheaded move that wrecked the whole field. We’d never hear the end of it. Busch showed a LOT of class and maturity in his interview after the wreck. Earnhardt’s excuse during the rain delay rang hollow. What, he doesn’t have a brake pedal?

2009: I was kind of excited for the racing season to get started back up again. But after seeing NASCAR’s blatent favoritism toward’s Dale Jr., it’s put me off. I’d kind of planned on watching more races this year than I had in the last few years, but I think I’ll probably have other things to do most weekends. So, thanks NASCAR. You’ve lost a fan, again.